My heartfelt thanks to Colin Hynd, without whom this album would not have happened, his support and encouragement were constant and unfailing, also to my wife, Annie, who supports and sustains me through the best and worst of times, is my best audience (and critic) and IS always there for me.
To all the great musicians for their input and their enthusiastic willingness to be involved in the recording — to my friends from Cape Breton Island, Fred Lavery and Stewart Cameron, to all Involved In "The Dublin Sessions" Finbar and George Furey, Jimmy Faulkner and, of course, John Sheahan who also recorded with me in Glasgow; to Tony McManus, Mike Katz, Joanie Madden, Fraser Speirs, Alasdair Fraser, Elspeth Cowie, Kate Rusby and Simon Ihoumire. Thanks, a million!
The final thanks, undoubtedly, must go to my producer John McCusker, who played everything, put the whole thing together and held it together with great stye, expertise and energy, and to Duncan Cameron at the Riverside for his engineering and constant patience and good humour. A final word to Gus, for having faith …
I hope you enjoy the album, as much as we enjoyed making it!
From the back shore of Easdale Island, Argyll (where I lived for a couple of years in the late 80's) can be seen the remains of old cottages on the Island of Belnahua. An old man on Easdale told me a story that, at he turn of the century, ninety or more men, women and children lived on the island surviving by fishing and from supplies (bread and fresh water etc.) delivered from the mainland. One supply of water, however, was tainted with typhoid from whlch all the Islanders died, Whether this story is apocryphal or not I do not know, I only know that I always wanted to write a song for the forgotten Belnahuans' but couldn't get the tune right. John Sheahan, the geat fiddle player with The Dubliners, kindly let me use thiS tune which he had witten about Norway while touring there with the band. Anyway, the tune always sounded much more Scottish to me, so here it is …
Someday We'll See Them
Alex (Campbell) wrote the words to this great World War I pipe tune "The Battle of the Somme', The song deals with the futility of war and is not as widely known as it might be, I found It on one of Alex's obscure German budget albums.
No More Stravaigin' — Dedicated to the memory of Alex Campbell
As given in the Scots Dialect Dictionary a 'Stravaiger' was one who 'wandered, sauntered, a vagabond'. Alex Campbell, the Glasgow Folk Singer, guitarist, and banjoist, was a born Stravaiger, a true wandering minstrel. In the late 1950's he was one of the very few who made a living busking in the streets on the Left Bank in Paris, where he was known as "Le Cowboy Ecosse" because of the way he dressed and the songs he sang. He was the first person I ever heard sing a Woody Guthrie song in a Folk Club and the first person I ever saw wearing a denim jacket, jeans, cowboy boots and an ear-ring! His ramblings took him allover Europe for over 3 decades. During the 70's and 80's I'd run into him in Germany and Denmark where he was lionised and adored especially in Tønder in Southern Jutland, where he died in January 1987. He made over 100 albums in his time, sometimes for a straight cash deal. and not a lot of cash at that, but that's how he was. He always had a jibe at me for not being a solo artist as I was usually involved in trios or bands of one kind or another. Well, Eck, I finally did it … and I wrote you a song as well …
My Love is Like a Red Red Rose
I recorded this in Dublin a few years ago with my good friend Finbar Furey.
The Final Trawl
A great Fisher song about the fishers! Archie's anthem to The Scottish Fishing Industry as was! He told me recently that he'd never recorded it, other than on a live recording in Canada with Garnett Rogers, which is where I got it.
Do You Think I Do Not Know/Sister Maureens Waltz
A love song from one of the two great Australian Poets, the other one being 'Banjo' Patterson. Lawson and Patterson were supposedly arch-rivals — however, I like to think that their rivalry was an early example of commercial 'hype' and that they really liked each other and spent many an hour sharing stories propped up in a bar somewhere.
The Last Of The Tinkler
A great Violet Jacob poem. The tune was based on a fragment I remembered from my Grandmother's singing.
This is a Texas (the state that is) version of 'Bonnie George Campbell', a great song from the Scottish North East. I got the song from a recording by Martin Simpson. I like the stark blunt way it deals, without sentiment on the theme of life and death.
A song from the Irish Tradition dedicated to the memory of two good men from Dublin; to Luke Kelly, the great Dubliners singer who used to sing it but never recorded it, and to Franko Griffin who loved to hear it sung … They are both missed and are, in their separate ways, responsible for me singing it here.
Scarborough Settlers Lament
Sandy Glendenning originally came from the Eskdalemuir Area but went to live in Canada in 1840 and settled in Scarborough, Ontario. Like many other exiled Scots, dreaming back to their homeland, he put all his feelings into the words of his songs, using the first part of the old Scots Air 'O a' the airts the wind can blaw' as his tune on this one.
I always wanted to recite something against Finbar's great Uillean Pipes and this seemed appropriate. Once again, recorded in Dublin.
Will Ye No Come Back Again
Lady Nairn's song for the deported Charles Edward Stuart, after his flight from Culloden to France via Skye. Over the last few years since I've been hosting the Celtic Connections Festival Club, this has become the final song of the festival as a fond farewell to all our friends, performers and audiences alike. On one of the first times I sang it, I did it acapella as usual but, halfway through the first verse I heard the beautiful sound of a fiddle playing behind me … it was the great Alasdair Fraser! It was a magical experience for me and has now also become part of the tradition … so I just couldn't possibly not ask him to join me again on this record!